Our first stop going north from Addis Ababa was Lalibela. In Lalibela you find one of those rare historical sites in the world that you struggle to believe even if you are staring right at it. The roch hewn churches in Lalibela are carved out of solid rock, and there are eleven of them!
The local history explains that the kingdom of Lalibela got help from God to make the churches. Some archeologists on the other hand, have estimated that it took about 40 000 men to build these over a period of about 80 years. Anyway, they are IMPRESSIVE!
Fortunately, it was market day when we arrived, and for the first time in Ethiopia we could walk around without being followed by begging kids. We got the impression that the kids in Lalibela had been thought in school to welcome tourists and not ask for money or pens. It was a great experience to see daily life and not being the center of attention which is often the case if we stop along the way somewhere.
An interesting thing we found was that lots of bags from USAID were sold on the market. Further north we saw more warehouses filled with bags of rice, maize, and flour. This is actually the first time in Africa we’ve seen food aid for poor areas.
From Lalibela we drove straight north over the mountains, and this is along with Turkana some of the most beautiful landscapes we’ve seen in Africa. The road takes you up to about 4000 meters, the hills are terraced for farming, and in the valleys below are canyons and rivers. Amazing!